Business, Finance & Economics

Design for the developing world

developing_world_design_233756090.jpg

The Hippo Roller in action (image: Project H Design/Flickr)

"Catapult Design is a resource for non-profits around the world who have technology and design obstacles that they either have limited capacity or expertise to take on themselves," says Heather Fleming of Catapult Design.

Player utilities

Listen to the Story.

One example of their work is with a company that offers a product called the Hippo Roller.  Introduced in Africa, the Hippo Roller allows those that fetch water from a great distance to get four days' worth of water at once, rather than making daily trips.  The product is in subsidized and in demand, but they have some issues in getting it out.  Catapult Design worked with Hippo Roller to see if there were ways to drasitcally reduce the cost of the product to make it more readily available in other places like South America and India.

Catapult Design's evaluation process involves more than an examination of the product, but also the reason for creating the product, and the company's desire for expansion.  They also look at the needs of those served by the product or service.  

"Design and technology development is the easiest part of this problem.  The hard part is the marketing, getting the technology disseminated, getting people to accept it and then measuring the impact.  And that is what not a lot of people are doing effectively," says Fleming.

"When you visit the countries that you are working on these projects in, most of the time it's not even you doing the innovation.  It's you witnessing somebody there who has done this for years in their way, something that you would have never thought of.  Just watching them being innovative is what guides your design.  So it's not so much us, it just us adapting what they are already doing."

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

More "The World."

PRI's coverage of social entrepreneurship is supported by the Skoll Foundation.